Have you noticed there are some websites on your phone browser that are really slow? The browser may struggle to scroll, becoming all jerky. I’ve noticed websites on my old iPad2 causing the browser to crash. Even though that iPad is very old by todays tech standards, I used to be able to browse the web ok on very old PC hardware when I first got an internet connection over dial up, though now everything is very slow.
This all sounds a bit first world problems, but it’s far, far worse for those in developing nations. Do you know how bad satellite Internet is compared to what most of us have here in the west? It is awful.
It’s not a new phenomenon, as the amount of extra assets that are being added to webpages. I once read that most web pages now are larger in file size than the original Doom game. Its not just larger images (almost every article has a large photograph in its header, the hero image). There are web fonts to download, which cause the page text to flicker or be blank until the font can render the text.
For me, this is something I’m thinking about a lot more, as a new project I will be starting is for web users based in low bandwidth countries, and the requirement is that it needs to work without costing site visitors huge data usage bills.
Its not just saving bandwidth though, having a fast website will also improve search ranking in Google and other search engines, and web developers are encouraged to test their sites with Google Pagespeed. That said, some of the techniques (adding styles inline for critical content) do go against web development best practices from talking to other web developer friends.
One way is to completely strip back on everything. This is the approach used by USA Today for it’s EU edition, to be complaint with GDPR. This certainly makes the site very fast, and is what I currently use to read up on news when needing a US based viewpoint. It does mean though on missing out on certain site features, such as currently the live stream feature does not work.
I’m currently researching different techniques and best practices in this space, which I will add as more resources in a future post.